According to The New York Times, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general determined that former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had misused her office to help promote her family’s shipping business.
The Department of Justice declined when the inspector general asked it to consider opening a criminal investigation into the matter, per the report.
In a report made public on Wednesday, the inspector general said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions both declined to take up the matter in the closing weeks of the Trump administration, even after the inspector general found repeated examples of Ms. Chao using her staff and her office to help benefit her family and their business operations and revealed that staff members at the agency had raised ethics concerns.
“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy inspector general, said on Tuesday in a letter to House lawmakers, accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation and the findings of wrongdoing.
Ms. Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced her resignation on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot. At the time of her departure, an aide to Ms. Chao said her resignation was unrelated to the forthcoming release of the investigation.
The Times noted that the investigation of Chao followed the newspaper’s 2019 report “that detailed Ms. Chao’s interactions with her family while serving as transportation secretary, including a trip she had planned to take to China in 2017 with her father and sister.”
The inspector general’s report confirmed that planning for the trip, which was canceled, raised ethics concerns among other government officials.
The inspector general’s investigation detailed a series of instances where Ms. Chao directed her staff to spend federal government time and resources to help with matters related to the shipbuilding company and her father.
Image credit: Official White House Photo by Evan Walker / Public Domain